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Disappointment wrapped itself around me like a living thing as I turned the calendar page to May. The first weekend was our quizzing finals – cancelled. Quizzing finals are a huge weekend of fun and my son was going to get his 6-year pin and there would have been pizza and fun and games and a service to honour the graduates. Wednesday my daughter was coming home to celebrate her brother’s graduation – cancelled. Six long months ago we moved her across the country and haven’t hugged her since. Facetime is great but it doesn’t isn’t a contact sport. Friday, May 8, was graduation day for son #3. Samuel and Blair were going to walk the stage in Beechy High School – cancelled. Sam was valedictorian, we had an epic suit planned. He isn’t disappointed that he isn’t writing a speech. Disappointment has claws that look alot like grief.

I have to admit to pretending like none of this bothered me, I’m a roll-with-the-punches kind of girl. Overall Covid-19 hasn’t really rocked my boat a whole lot but this week was a tidal wave that I didn’t see coming. There is no wind in my sails. Disappointment has gouged many lives through in this weird world and maybe we’re not handling it well. So much of life has been cancelled. Weddings, ceremonies, concerts, events. Funerals occur with only 10 mourners. It doesn’t feel fair and our emotions are consuming our rational thoughts.

In the face of grief and loss and disappointment how do we process what we’re feeling? How do we help our kids deal with their losses and emotions that have them giving up play-dates and birthday parties and trips to the park? Avoiding and stuffing these difficult emotions don’t make them go away. They’ll poke out somewhere. Rather than having them make an appearance in a manner that could cause further destruction let’s put on our big kid pants and see what we can constructively do with our pesky, problematic emotions.

1. Acknowledge the loss. Give a voice to the disappointment or loss. Name it. Don’t stuff it or pretend it doesn’t exist.Pull it out where you can see it and look it in the eye. Write it out, speak/yell/scream it to the heavens, let it loose. I want to see my daughter in the flesh. I want to run my hands over her freshly shaved head and feel the warmth of her in my arms.I want to sit face to face and have tea and talk and I’m pissed off that I don’t get to do that this week.

I had a dream of having one of my six kids graduate in this small town school where their dad graduated so many years ago, this boy was the best bet and now it isn’t going to happen. Small town graduations are a community event and now it won’t happen that way. I’m sad that he probably won’t get the big stack of presents that the town usually gives, there’s only two boys in the class so it doesn’t feel like such a big deal to everyone. My dream is shattered and while it may seem silly to everyone else, it was a big deal to me.

2. Allow yourself to feel all the feels. Snot is dripping and tears are running as I type these words. It’s okay to feel sad and you absolutely have permission to feel whatever feelings you have, whether that’s anger or sadness or maybe even elation that you dodged a bullet that everyone thinks you should be disappointed about. It’s okay to take a walk somewhere and yell at the sky. Sadness is an important placeholder in our emotional makeup, if we keep pushing it to the side we get cranky. When we don’t acknowledge those big emotions we can end up hurting ourselves or others. Feel what you need to feel. Go watch Inside Out by Disney if this still isn’t making sense.

3. Appreciate what you DO have. I am thankful that in spite of my daughter living in the center of the Covid-19 capital of Canada, she hasn’t been overly affected by it. She is employed, healthy, and happy. If she came home now she’d miss a month of work because she’d have to self-isolate for two weeks after she gets back. Way too costly for her and the mom she works for. We can wait.

My son will graduate with or without the ceremony. The festivities won’t be quite so grand, we’re having a wiener roast at home and inviting one friend over. The SCC created beautiful posters of the grads and put them out on the front lawn of the school. At least one thoughtful person has sent him a gift in the mail and his principal is compiling the obligatory slide show of his life to be posted on Facebook. We’re going to make the epic, fancy coat and vest that he wanted and we’ll find a photographer to take some great pictures. 

How are you processing your losses and disappointments right now? Do you need a shoulder to lean on and cry a little, I’d love to serve you, feel free to comment or connect with me privately through my contact form.

 

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